Corporate America must realize that it is caught in an unforgiving spotlight, and that it needs to work to change that, the head of Xerox Corp. said on Oct. 2 at Fordham.
“It’s immensely important that we find solutions that regain the reputations of our well-established institutions,” said Anne M. Mulcahy, chairman of Xerox. “My advice to colleagues [in corporate America]is we have to stop whining and take our place at the table and really make sure that we are part of a constructive change.”
Mulcahy was one of a dozen speakers from the worlds of business, law and finance who shared their knowledge about the future of domestic and international commerce at a two-day Fordham conference on enhanced regulation.
“Enhanced Regulation: Integrity in the Global Financial Markets” drew more than 200 leading figures from regulatory and corporate institutions, as well as Fordham business students. It was co-sponsored by KPMG LLP and held at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus.
Mulcahy said she is a big believer in the right of government to encourage transparency and disclosure through regulations. But she warned that sometimes regulations have a one-size-fits-all approach.
“If we are not careful, regulations can undermine the role of management and its need to do what is best for shareholders, employees and customers,” she said. She added that some elected officials might be misinformed about the business world.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C., and am often surprised at how … lawmakers don’t understand how companies work; how to create wealth; and what it takes to create jobs, benefits, salaries and equity in products that have been part of the value that business delivers,” she said.
Conversely, Corporate America must understand that lawmakers are put in a corner when stakeholders “rightfully cry foul” about inequities in the system, Mulcahy said.
“They have to react by proposing new legislation that may result in more barriers, bureaucracy and complexity,” she said. “It’s a reality and we’re going to have to deal with the consequences of it. But we also need to participate in the debate and help educate and have our voices heard.”
In day one of the conference, a panel of experts in the financial world discussed “Ethics on Wall Street.”
“When I think of ethics, I reflect on my employer in the early 1990s, Charles Schwab, which I consider to be the single greatest work experience of my life,” said Marty Cunningham, president and CEO of Hudson Securities. “They taught us vision and values and embracing change. If you look at it on a grand scale, when the market legitimizes itself, investors will engage and there will be an opportunity for everyone to have a piece of the revenue pie.”
Doreen Mogavero, president of Mogavero, Lee & Co., and the first woman from the floor to be appointed to a board position of the New York Stock Exchange, said the tough regulatory environment will vilify those in the financial world.
“It may be slightly overboard that to go to the bathroom, people on the floor have to clock in and clock out and there are cameras everywhere,” she said. “I’m happy that we have them to keep everyone honest. At the same time, I’m unhappy we have to have them.”
Also on the panel was Carolyn Dolan, founding principal of Samson Capital Advisors.
Lisa Utasi, director and senior trader of ClearBridge Advisors, moderated the discussion.
The event was hosted by John Tognino (FCLS ’75), chairman of the Fordham University Board of Trustees, and Barbara M. Porco, C.P.A., M.B.A., Ph.D., director of program development for the Fordham University Schools of Business Administration.
“This forum brought together great minds, representing different industries, to share their perspectives on ensuring ethical behavior through responsible business practices and sound fiscal policies,” Porco said.